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Davis Park will be new home for old house

The Galvin-Jaudon house may have finally found a home.

The Hillsborough County Commission on Tuesday voted to move the historic Brandon building to Davis Park on Parsons Avenue, just a few blocks from its current location at 201 Victoria St.

The decision appears to have ended 18 months of controversy over the fate of the house, built more than 100 years ago by one of Brandon's founders. The building will be moved by April 1, according to an agreement signed by First Baptist Church of Brandon, which owns the house.

County staff recommended the park because it has on-site security and is close to the home's current location. That will make it easier to get grant funding for restoration, Commissioner Pat Frank said at Tuesday's meeting.

"We're thankful that a resolution was agreed upon," said the Rev. Tommy Green of First Baptist. "That was our desire from the beginning to have the house relocated."

Time and patience, he said, paid off.

Green has said in the past that the land might be used for a family life center, but Tuesday he said those plans are not firm.

Commissioner Jan Platt thanked community members for calling attention to preservation issues, but warned: "If you have a house out there you want to save, then you buy it."

Byron Dean, president of the Brandon Historical Association, said he's sorry to see the house moved, but hopes that some members of his group will be involved in the restoration at the new location.

"We would also like to see the Galvins and Jaudons used as consultants on the restoration project," he said.

The Galvin-Jaudon house has been at the center of a protracted battle between the church and local preservationists.

The church bought the property in July 2002, and gave the county staff six months to find a place to move the house.

No good plans emerged, and when preservationists heard the house, one of Brandon's oldest remaining buildings, might be destroyed, they urged the County Commission to step in and give the house landmark status, fighting to keep it where it was built.

The issue bounced back and forth between the County Commission and the Historic Resources Review Board for months, with county officials refusing to take action for fear of lawsuits.

First Baptist received approval Oct. 20 to tear the building down, but church leaders said they would wait 90 more days before calling in the demolition crew to give preservationists a last chance to move the house.

No solution was offered, and Jan. 15, two days before the church's 90-day deadline, the County Commission voted to spend $50,000 to move the structure.

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